How does woman fit into the relationship of marriage? What is the ideal marriage? Since the seeds of every doctrine found in the Bible have their beginning in Genesis, early on we discover marriage.
"Therefore a man should leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24).
Had this fundamental design for marriage been followed, women would never have become the personal property of their husbands. Under the Old Covenant, the desire may have been there, but the power was not. That's why the Old Testament is filled with violations of Genesis 2:24. The entire race would be on a higher level because God's Word gave the world the right path to marital harmony and fidelity while erecting the greatest barrier to woman's degradation by preserving the oneness of husband and wife. God's plan was a simple one to follow as were His mathematics. He started with -
1 + 1 = 1 or man + woman = humankind. Genesis 1:27 says in the KJV, "So God created man in his own image . . . male and female created he them." The better choice for "man" is the word "humankind" to capture the context of the two persons God created.
1 + 1 = 2 or man and woman became two separate individuals. Genesis 2:22 reads, "Then the rib (side) which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman . . .
1 + 1 = 1 or man + woman in marriage = one. Genesis 2:24 says in NKJV, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." "One flesh," means one body or one person.
Why would He remind His people that "marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled?" (Hebrews 13:4). The Lord wants couples to recognize marriage as sacred. God uses the earthly marriage relationship to show us a picture of His desired relationship of oneness with the church. It took the New Covenant to empower man and woman that it indeed could be achieved. When we have been united with him in his death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection! (Romans 6:5) The resurrection of Christ in me gives Him authority to impart the life of God to me. By receiving the resurrection life of Christ now, that life will be revealed in holiness. We will be able to claim "the power of His resurrection" when we experience the "fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death." Philippians 3:10.
He considers Himself as married to us (Jeremiah 3:14) and sees His church as His bride (Hosea 2:19). His desire is for our earthly marriages to preserve their intimacy from perverse and debasing practices, even if such practices are culturally acceptable. These practices include sexual relations outside marriage, called fornication (before) and adultery (during). Why is adultery so dreadful to God? The primary reason is because a third person enters the "two shall become one" relationship and mars the image of "oneness" that God desires. Also included are all other forms of sexual debauchery including same-sex "marriage" and pornography.
Christianity does not accept a double standard in any area, certainly not in sexual conduct. An honor code that holds only the woman accountable for faithfulness is tradition, not biblical truth. Jesus spoke to this issue in John 8:3-11 the passage known as "the woman" caught in adultery. Even though it takes two to commit adultery and the law demanded death for both, the men only brought the woman to be stoned. Jesus wrote something, what we do not know, but the result made the accusing men look at their hearts either seeing their own sin or recognizing the injustice they were promoting.
Men all over the world are pressured to prove their manhood by sexual conquests. Looking on women as sexual objects is pure lust which Jesus ranks with adultery (Matt. 5:27-28. It has no place in Christianity. At the same time, Christian women must recognize their responsibility to dress and behave in a fashion that does not provoke the problem for men.
The passage in Matthew 5:38-41 also addresses the honor/shame culture found in many areas of the world today. Honor was violated with revenge the expected outcome. Jesus deals with getting revenge in Matthew 5:38-42. He rejects the eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth teaching and says instead not to oppose the evil person but to do what they ask and go beyond. This teaching is not on surrendering to violence against your person, but it does give a clear rejection of the concept that we must keep our honor by taking revenge for an offense.
The Greek word kephale translated "head" has caused misunderstanding. The word "head" does mean "authority over" in English but does not mean the same in the Greek used in the writing of the New Testament. At that time, kephale had five meanings but clearly did not ever mean "authority." Think of the word as meaning the part of your body called the "head" or "source," like the source of a river. Paul would have chosen archon, an entirely different Greek word, had he wanted to show authority. This word, kephale, did not come to mean authority over someone until the Byzantine Empire hundreds of years after the writing of these scriptures.
Kephale is often used to show the intimate relationship of Christ with His body. (Ephesians 1:23; Colossians 1:18) The head (kephale) shares a common life with the body, He is the source of the risen life that flows through His people and brings them into unity. Kephale is used in Ephesians 4:16 to show that Christ is the "head" from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God."
The word "submission" (hupotasso), used to describe the unique relationship between believers, describes the voluntary yielding of one's preferences to another. "Submission" does not mean "to obey," but rather to get under and lift up as in supporting each other just as we support Christ, the head of the Body. For us to grasp what Paul was trying to say, it is crucial to have proper translation and understanding. Whenever you encounter the words "submit," "subject," or "subjection," which are all translations of hupotasso, simply substitute the word "support."
The word for "submit," hupotasso, has been added to Ephesians 5:22 in nearly every Bible version even though it is not found in any known Greek text. In Greek, we read "wives, to your husbands as to the Lord." It's a phrase, not a sentence. Where, then, is the verb? To find it, one must go all the way back to Ephesians 5:18 that says, ". . . be filled with the Spirit. . ." Paul goes on with participles on 1) speaking, 2) giving thanks and 3) "submitting." Submitting to or supporting whom? "One another" followed by "wives to your own husbands, as to the Lord." According to scripture, then, husbands are to support the wife as much as the wife is to support the husband.
As the body supports, or holds up, the head of the church (the Anointed One), likewise the wife supports the head-the husband. Remember, the Greek word for "head" has nothing to do with authority.
Is marriage "love at first sight" as we've always heard? No, marriage is love after a "long look!" Look carefully at his or her beliefs. The rest of your life will strongly depend on your conclusion. Would you like to see unity in the Body of Christ and fulfillment of Jesus' prayer in John 17:21 for unity with the Father and Son as well as each other?
Why did God say to the Israelites prior to their possessing the land that they were not to make any covenants, including marriage, with the "ites" (enemies in the land) that were there? He believed they would turn his Chosen People from following God to serving other gods. (Deuteronomy 7:2-3). Has God chosen you? If so, you will wisely guard the second most important decision you will ever make in your life-the marriage covenant. You will make sure the core beliefs of your chosen one are the same as yours. If you are married and just discovering this truth, then you must consistently confess by faith that the Lord Himself is bringing both of you into that unity that will make you one with Him.
Does something even more major exist? Yes! When Christian marriages truly become one, a major hurdle in preparing the church to move into the unity God ordained will have been accomplished. A Christian marriage is when both spouses share the Christian faith. Of course, I. Corinthians 7:12-13 states that though one who believes has an unbelieving partner, neither the believing husband nor the believing wife is to send the other away. If the unbeliever wants to leave, let them leave. Just know that God has called us to a state of peace. Genesis 2:24 stresses this "oneness" or unity by telling the man to leave his father and mother and "cleave" to his wife. Then, loyalty to his wife would be above loyalty to his father and mother or his natural family. Beyond providing the "model" for marriage, Adam and Eve show the relationship all Christians are called to have with each other as described in I. Corinthians 13.
True biblical equality in marriage is when man and woman as husband and wife become united or enter into "oneness." The relationship between husband and wife must reach a place of honesty where no barriers, defensiveness or pretenses exist between the two them or with God.
Nothing in the creation account, or anywhere else in the scriptures, justifies the male/husband as the authority over the female/wife in creation or marriage. Genesis 3:16 speaks of the husband ruling over the wife after the Fall in the earlier part of Genesis 3. God wants to restore the original plan He presented where the man and woman were co-regents or co-rulers. God is not approving of the husband's rule. He is saying that the husband in his fallen state will choose to rule.
When marriage partners are subjected to physical, verbal, emotional or spiritual abuse, God does not require them to stay in a place of ill treatment or violence. Too many marriage counselors have used I. Peter 3 to advise wives to remain respectful, submissive and obedient in order that the husband is won not by her words but by her actions. Such faulty teaching keeps man's selfishness dominant in the relationship and puts the entire responsibility for success on the wife. It makes a mockery of the true instruction given by Peter.
The problem in I. Peter 3 is the very first word--"likewise." It looks as though it refers back to how Jesus took a beating for us, thus making it seem like the woman should do the same in order to win her husband. This thought seems like a basis for continuing in an abusive situation. However, Peter is addressing winning a husband to the Lord by a Christian lifestyle. As equal partners in a marriage and before God, women do not honor their Creator by being doormats.
What do you believe about marriage? Do you believe it is an "arrangement" which you may "bow out of" whenever the going gets rough in ways other than abuse? Preferably, do you believe it is a sacred covenant or mutual agreement instituted by God that represents the legal union of a man and woman for life 'til death shall separate them? The way you approach the marriage relationship determines its success or failure.
Is your head screwed on straight about "headship" and "submission?" When the husband is a "source of life" to his wife, a woman has no problem supporting him as he is supporting her. Do you see yourselves as "equal partners," and are you treating each other as such? Having this opportunity to re-examine your beliefs in light of what scripture really says, does your heart leap with excitement when you think of what a marriage really can be with Christ Jesus as the "head" of His Father's everlasting covenant instituted from the beginning? Hold onto your seat belt because you're in for the ride of your life!